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Lady of the Lake


THE LADY OF THE LAKE
SIR WALTER SCOTT
The text of the poem has given me unexpected trouble. When I
edited some of Gray’s poems several years ago, I found that they
had not been correctly printed for more than half a century; but
in the case of Scott I supposed that the text of Black’s
so-called ”Author’s Edition” could be depended upon as accurate.
Almost at the start, however, I detected sundry obvious misprints
in one of the many forms in which this edition is issued, and an
examination of others showed that they were as bad in their way.
The ” Shilling ” issue was no worse than the costly illustrated
one of 1853, which had its own assortment of slips of the type.
No two editions that I could obtain agreed exactly in their
readings. I tried in vain to find a copy of the editio princeps
(1810) in Cambridge and Boston, but succeeded in getting one
through a London bookseller. This I compared, line by line, with
the Edinburgh edition of 1821 (from the Harvard Library), wit h
Lockhart’s first edition, the ” Globe ” edition, and about a
dozen ot hers English and American. I found many misprints and
corruptions in all except the edition of 1821, and a few even in
that. For instance in i. 217 Scott wrote ” Found in each cli a
narrow bower,” and it is so printed in the first edition; but in
every other that I have seen ” cli ” appears in place of
clift,, to the manifest injury of the passage. In ii. 685, every
edition that I have seen since that of 1821 has ” I meant not all
my heart might say,” which is worse than nonsense, the correct r
eading being ” my heat.” In vi. 396, the Scottish ” boune ”
(though it occurs twice in other parts of the poem) has been
changed to ” bound ” in all editions since 1821 ; and, eight
lines below, the old word ” barded ” has become ” barbed.” Scores
of similar corruptions are recorded in my Notes, and need not be
cited here.
I have restored the reading of the first edition, except in cases
where I have no doubt that the later reading is the poet’s own
correction or alteration. There are obvious misprints in the
first edition which Scott himself overlooked (see on ii. 115,
217,, Vi. 527, etc.), and it is sometimes dicult to decide
whet her a later reading–a change of a plural to a singular, or
like trivial variation–is a misprint or the author’s correction
of an earlier misprint. I have done the best I could, with the
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means at my command, to settle these questions, and am at least
certain that the text as I give it is nearer right than in any
edition since 1821 As all the variae lectiones are recorded in
the Notes, the reader who does not approve of the one I adopt can
substitute that which he prefers.
I have retained all Scott’s Notes (a few of them have been
somewhat abridged) and all those added by Lockhart.[FNl] My own
I have made as concise as possible. There are, of course, many of
them which many of my readers will not need, but I think there
are none that may not be of service, or at least of interest, to
some of them; and I hope that no one will turn to them for help
without finding it.
Scott is much given to the use of Elizabethan words and
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